Chinese Source




English Translation

There was an old woman who supported a hermit. For twenty years she always had a girl, sixteen or seventeen years old, take the hermit his food and wait on him.

One day she told the girl to give the monk a close hug and ask, "What do you feel just now?"

The hermit responded,

An old tree on a cold cliff;

Midwinter-no warmth.

The girl went back and told this to the old woman. The woman said, “For twenty years I've supported this vulgar good-for-nothing!" So saying, she threw the monk out and burned down the hermitage.

Ikkyu's response

The old woman was bighearted enough

To elevate the pure monk with a girl to wed.

Tonight if a beauty were to embrace me

My withered old willow branch would sprout a new shoot!

Ikkyu Poems


Judith Ragir Per ??James Myoun Ford